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No fraud in Ecuador's presidential election, says observer group

By Andrew V. Pestano
No fraud in Ecuador's presidential election, says observer group
Ecuadorians protest in front of the National Electoral Council as they await the final results of the presidential election in Quito on Monday. Alexander Vega, the head of the Union of South American Nations' electoral observation mission in Ecuador, rejected accusations of fraud following the delay of results, adding that Ecuador's electoral system is transparent. Photo by José Jácome/EPA

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Alexander Vega, the head of the Union of South American Nations' electoral observation mission in Ecuador, rejected accusations of fraud following the delay of results.

The election results from Sunday's vote were expected to be released on Monday, but Ecuador's National Electoral Council, or CNE, delayed the official results until Wednesday or Thursday, saying it was not yet certain in the close contest whether a run-off would be needed.

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Lenin Moreno, outgoing left-wing President Rafael Correa's former vice president, is expected to win the vote, but not by enough to avoid a second round of voting that would be held in early April. Moreno needs 40 percent of the vote to win the presidency without a run-off.

Moreno has about 39.11 percent of votes with 93 percent of the ballots counted as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Guillermo Lasso, Moreno's main electoral rival and a conservative who has vowed to reduce government spending and taxes, said the delays "did not smell right." Some of Moreno's supporters have accused the CNE of committing fraud to favor Moreno, who is expected to have a close contest with Lasso in a run-off.

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"The president of the National Electoral Council of Ecuador should meet with the Ecuadorian people and explain to them the delay of more than 36 hours," Lasso said on Tuesday. "My request to the Ecuadorian people is to keep awake, but in peace. Let's not fall into provocations."

Vega urged people to remain calm as the nation awaits the official results from the CNE.

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"No one has denounced a fraud," Vega said, adding it is difficult to believe "that the National Electoral Council would have invited more than 200 observers for a fraud."

Ecuador's election system is "so transparent that whoever wins can download the transcripts, add the votes and will get the same result," Vega added.

The Organization of American States is also observing the Ecuadorian election.

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